NORMAN — Everything Oklahoma did Thursday night looked rushed. It fell behind quickly, hacked at pitches early in counts and even recorded outs in a time-efficient manner.
Under that scenario, the 7-0 loss to West Virginia taking slightly over two hours wasn’t a surprise.
The plan was not to speed through the series opener with the Mountaineers.
OU (24-15, 4-6 Big 12) wanted to get into West Virginia’s bullpen by wearing down starting pitcher John Means.
Then again, most plans don’t include a contingency for trailing by five runs before the leadoff batter ever reaches for the pine tar.
The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6) seized control of the game and the series by pummeling OU starting pitcher Corey Copping with five runs on six hits in the top of the first inning, including a two-run double by left fielder Jacob Rice.
“Chase,” OU coach Pete Hughes said. “That’s what we’ve been doing a lot of.”
Early deficits have been a constant for the Sooners, who have lost five of their last six games. Those deficits alter any offensive plan. It’s harder to hit-and-run or steal bases because you can’t do anything that could negate a big inning.
All that’s left is station-to-station baseball and hoping four or five hits can be strung together.
The Sooners only had seven on the night with none going for extra bases and just one coming with a runner in scoring position.
“Their pitcher did a really good job of keeping us off balance and putting up a lot of zeroes,” OU catcher Mac James said.
Ironically, Copping accomplished one thing OU desperately needed: he pitched seven innings and gave a bullpen still healing from Tuesday’s 18-inning game at Oklahoma State another day to rest.
Outside of that first inning, Copping (2-1) had an effective night. He gave up 13 hits, but he also struck out six and only issued one walk.